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What If I Have Concerns About My Child's School?

If you have concerns about the way in which the National Curriculum is being delivered or about how your child is treated in school, you might first of all contact his/her teacher. If that doesn't work, try discussing the matter with the head teacher. If your complaint still isn't sorted out, then you can complain to the governing body of the school in writing.

State-maintained schools have a procedure for dealing with complaints and you can ask to see a copy of this. For some complaints, a special governors' complaint panel may be called.

Local authorities also need to have a complaints procedure so if you are dissatisfied with the way in which the school is dealing with the problem, you can make a complaint in writing to the local authority.

As a last resort, you have the right to complain to the Secretary of State in the Department for Children, Schools and Families if you feel that the school's governing body or the local authority is acting ‘unreasonably'. This would mean that they are behaving as no reasonable school or authority would do in the circumstances.

If possible, try to deal with incidents before they turn into major issues. If your child talks about something or someone they're having difficulties with at school - and it might be a teacher - listen to what they're saying and try to judge whether you need to take action. Your child might insist that you do nothing - he/she might fear what might happen as a result - but you might decide that, because things might escalate, or because the school needs to know that you have concerns, you must do something. You could start with a telephone call or a letter to the teacher concerned, class teacher or head of year to ask for a meeting. It might help to make notes of what you want to say and take a friend with you to any meeting.

If staff raise issues about your child's behaviour or attitude, you might want to find out more. Is the problem with one teacher or many? Has there been one isolated incident or several? How has the school tried to deal with the problem? What suggestions do they have? How can you help the school to solve the problem?

If you are concerned about the effect of any reported incidents on your child's school records, you (and your child) have the right to see them if you make a request in writing although you may have to pay the cost of photocopying. If you believe that any part of the record is not correct, you can write to your local education authority. If it is incorrect, it must be amended.

There are only a few circumstances under which your request to view your child's records can be refused, for instance if you would find out information about another pupil or if the school believes the reports contain information about a child's risk of abuse.